As published on MyCustomer.
Recently, all eyes and ears were on Prince Charles at the World Economic Forum as he delivered a warning to businesses at the Davos Summit: only a revolution in the way the global economy works can save the planet from climate crisis.
When most people think of ‘sustainability’ and the gig economy, the immediate focus tends to be on whether the gig economy has a long term and viable future, both for the individuals driving it and the companies that invest and capitalise on it. And while it’s an interesting debate that is played out publicly on a daily basis, there’s more depth to the gig-fuelled sustainability conversation than meets the eye: the gig is helping to create a green working model that is sustainable from an environmental point of view, while also driving long term economic sustainability.
The gig is also part of a generational shift in labour and workplace culture as Millennials and Gen Z age groups begin to dominate the workforce. These groups are less interested in traditional office-bound 9-to-5 work and are instead opting for freelance or gig-work to fit around their lifestyles. Technology will develop rapidly to support these new types of workers, and SaaS will support the service models that will contribute to the decline of physical tech environments.
The fact that Millennials and Gen Z groups are also the most engaged in the climate change debate will mean more sustainable tech investments to minimise digital footprint. Businesses will attract people who want to freelance and help the environment at the same time.
Customer service may not be an obvious link between the gig economy and green technologies, but there’s a great relationship growing between the two, especially where mobile gig workers are delivering better service on-demand, resulting in a demonstrable positive environmental impact. Companies are now beginning to explore how gig workers can disrupt the traditional contact centre model of customer service.
With gig customer service, or ‘GigCX,’ workers are crowdsourced using gig technology platforms. GigCX agents work on an on-demand basis from their homes (or anywhere, for that matter), helping companies to strip out fixed brick and mortar costs, which they can, in turn, reinvest in their people.
GigCX is different to home working because these gig workers work on a per task and case basis – this work is not scheduled. Gig work is also opening up far more roles than home working has, as is suggested in a recent study by the Everest Group, which states that GigCX will make up 20% of the contact centre outsourcing market in terms of headcount in the next 2 years.
In this new CX service delivery model, crowdsourced gig workers are sourced from customer pools which are well acquainted with the brands. This creates a trusted ‘crowd’ of product experts who are available to deliver better service on-demand, based on personal experience. At the heart of it, GigCX is about empowering anyone, anywhere on the planet to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for brands they love.
Right time, right place
The traditional contact centre model for customer service has endured because of the cost efficiencies it has introduced over time, mainly focused on managing large volumes using dedicated call centre technologies. At its core, the dedicated call centre model also fuels job creation.
However, the downside for employees is that call centres, like most traditional offices, usually have standard operating hours and locations. Imagine if you could take the customer service agent out of the contact centre, and allow them to work from home or a convenient place of their choice, at a flexible time when they were at their best? This is exactly what is happening with GigCX, where technology securely routes queries to mobile agents who respond to digital customer enquiries via emails, chat, messenger and social media channels.
The end result is threefold: firstly, the model opens up employment opportunities to GigCX workers, who might otherwise be unable to undertake daily commutes or commit to scheduled work hours.
Gig workers may be parents, students or retired people who want flexible, part-time hours. And with gig work, they are introducing new efficiencies by working at their most productive times of the day, and as a result, we’re seeing people do more in less time. GigCX is all about empowering people to earn money by providing excellent customer service, on-demand, 24/7, and is well-aligned with saving resources to help for the greener good.
Location also plays a role, for if your workers are not call centre based, you may be able to begin to downsize the call centre itself. Over time, you may find, for example, that for every 10,000 tickets that go through a GigCX customer service system, you can save one contact centre seat a year. While the business economics are obvious, the positive environmental impact of a smaller versus larger contact centre is also evident from a resource and waste perspective.
What is often overlooked as well is the environmental impact of travel: the working commute leaves a carbon footprint, just like any other form of travel, and it can be drastically reduced by offsetting it with gig workers. Technology is enabling GigCX workforces to thrive, to deliver better customer service on-demand, which is stripping out wasted time and resources to streamline the new customer service model.
In addition, when you’re able to recruit people from any location, you open up your talent and labour pool from where your contact centre is based, to a global workforce pool. While this may not save the planet from a sustainability point of view, it’s complementary in the way it opens up new opportunities in areas that may be experiencing an economic downturn.
When it comes to the gig economy and customer service, sustainability is much more than a buzzword. The gig economy is enabling businesses to offer customer service in a much more environmentally sustainable way that is also fuelling a new culture of workers that may not have existed without the freedom and flexibility introduced by the gig. It’s a win-win situation for companies, gig workers and customers, and testament that corporate green initiatives need not be regarded as marketing propaganda: what’s great for your customers can also really and truly be great for the planet.